Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 Review
For the money, the best dual TIG/stick welder you can buy right now is the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200.
From its AC and DC TIG capabilities to its powerful stick welding ability there’s not much Lincoln has left out with this incredible piece of equipment.
Among its top features include high-frequency starting, adjustable AC balance and frequency and an inverter based design for unmatched power and portability.
Lincoln has really outdone themselves with this one.
- AC/DC TIG and stick capable
- AC balance and freq. adjustment
- Great for aluminum
- 120V and 230V ready
- Inverter based
- Pulse mode
- High-frequency start
- Premium air cooled torch
- Simple control interface
- Included foot pedal control
- Solid warranty
- Minimum 10 amp output
- A bit pricey
AC/DC TIG and stick capable
The Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is one of the most versatile welders on the market. It’s capable of TIG welding using both AC and DC, making it the go-to choice for a variety of material, including aluminum. Furthermore, when you need to weld thicker material or need to do some outside work, it has the ability to produce high-quality stick welds.
AC stands for alternating current. It is measured in hertz and refers to the number of times the current alternates between positive and negative. Typically, the higher the frequency, the narrower the weld. This back and forth action acts as a cleaner for non-ferrous metals. It removes the fast forming oxide that would otherwise contaminate the weld. That’s why AC is the only way to cleanly weld aluminum.
DC stands for direct current and there are two types: DC+ and DC-. The difference is which way the current flows.
DC Electrode Positive – With DC+ the current flows from the work piece to the tungsten. Theoretically you can use DC+ to weld aluminum. DC+ is the current that cleans the oxide but since it doesn’t provide a lot of penetration it can only be used on extremely thin material and thus not very practical.
DC Electrode Negative – DC- is the opposite. The current flows from the tungsten to the work piece and the positively charged argon gas ions flow from the work piece to the tungsten. This makes it the choice for thicker metals and is preferred when welding steel and other nonferrous metals.
When you need to weld much thicker metal and aesthetics are irrelevant, the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is capable of that too. On a single pass this rig can handle up to 3/8”. Doing multiple passes there’s no telling how thick of material you can weld. In addition, if you need to weld outside, stick is the way to go.
AC balance and frequency control
The Square Wave gives you total control of your weld, allowing you to adjust both the AC balance and the frequency to your exact specifications.
The AC balance is the amount of time the current is on either electrode negative or electrode positive. However it’s shown as a percentage of time on electrode negative (%EN). You can adjust it anywhere between 60%EN – 90%EN.
Lower Electrode Negative
- Greater cleaning action
- Less penetration (good for thin material)
- Wider bead
- Decreases tungsten lifespan
Higher Electrode Negative
- Greater penetration
- Increased travel speeds
- Narrower bead
- Increase life of tungsten and reduces balling
- Can use smaller tungsten
- Improved aesthetics
AC frequency, measured in hertz, refers to the amount of times per second that the current switches from positive to negative. The Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 lets you adjust it from 60 to 150.
A frequency in the 60 hertz range results in a wider bead while a frequency in the 150 hertz range allows for a narrower, more focused bead.
Simple control interface
With knobs and buttons and blinking lights, at first glance the control panel looks a bit daunting.
But it’s pretty easy to figure out after a few minutes and after a few days you’ll be able to adjust the settings without even looking at it.
There are three basic controls you need to know:
1. The button on the top right corner is for choosing which setting you want to adjust as indicated by the corresponding lights to the left of it.
From top to bottom:
- Amperage output
- Pulse Frequency
- AC Balance
- AC Frequency
2. The big knob in the middle is used to adjust all of the above settings. Simply turn it left or right.
3. The button on the bottom right just below the setting selector is the process selector that lets you choose between AC TIG, DC TIG or stick.
Great for aluminum
TIG welding is usually associated with welding aluminum yet not every TIG welder is able to.
However, thanks to the AC capability of the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200, this unit is ideal for welding aluminum.
Why do you need AC to weld aluminum?
When exposed to air, aluminum forms an oxide layer that has a much higher melting point than the base metal itself.
Aluminum oxide melts at 3600 degrees Fahrenheit while aluminum melts at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. If not removed, the oxide will contaminate the weld, causing low-quality welds and improper weld fusion.
Alternating current acts as a cleaner to remove the oxide before it can contaminate the weld.
More specifically, it’s the positive current that actually blasts away the oxide, leaving room for the negative current to melt the metal together, forming a clean, contaminant-free bead.
120V and 230V ready
Whether you only have a standard 120V household outlet or a fully equipped shop that’s 230V capable, the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 will work on either one.
Each input has its own dedicated power cord that is easily attached and removed.
Simply plug it in and turn it a quarter turn. Vise-versa for removing it.
Output amperage range for each:
Are you wondering how Lincoln manages to fit both a TIG and a stick welder, capable of 200 amps of output power into a box that weighs less than 50 lbs?
That’s because of the modern wonder of inverter technology.
Inverters allow for power to be stored in sophisticated silicone based technology and controlled by an internal microcomputer.
So instead of giant, metal ladened transformers, inverters use just a small microchip to store and disperse the power as needed.
Pulse mode allows you to control how many times per second the current is ‘pulsed’ allowing for greater control over the weld.
So instead of a constant output the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 has a range of .1 – 20 pulses per second.
The lower pulse frequency helps moderate filler metal deposition for when you wants to make some really nice looking welds – “stacking dimes.”
Higher pulse frequency helps manage heat input and minimizes metal distortion for welding thinner material.
High frequency start is the most advanced starting method for TIG and the one that allows for the least amount of contamination.
With the method the torch never touches the work piece.
To start, you hold the tungsten slightly above the work.
An arc is then formed, ionizing the air and bridging the gap between the torch and the metal.
This method is completely touchless and creates almost no contaminants.
When welding aluminum this is the only way to start and arc.
The only real downside is that because of the high-frequency, you run the risk of interfering with nearby electronics.
So make sure your phone isn’t in your pocket.
Premium air cooled torch
The torch included with the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is what you’d expect of a Lincoln product, which is to say, fantastic.
The 12.5-ft Ultra-Flex cables provide unmatched flexibility and maneuverability giving you total freedom to move about your work without having to lug the machine around with you.
The knurled non-slip handle is comfortable enough to work all day cramp-free without sacrificing precision.
Finally, if you prefer to add a cable cover to protect the cable from sparks and spatter, the torch easily accommodates it with a molded lip ridge on the handle.
Includes foot pedal control
The foot pedal is used to adjust the amperage output as you go, giving you complete control of the weld.
Minimum 10 amp output
The minimum 10 amp output might be too high for some.
Other TIG welders have much lower minimums of around 2-4.
But really, unless you’re welding aluminum foil on a regular basis I don’t see this as being an issue.
A bit pricey
At around $1500, it might be a little expensive for some.
But for what you get and with the welders insane capabilities, it’s easily worth it.
The Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is by leaps and bounds the best dual TIG/ stick welder for the money available today.
It has AC and DC TIG capabilities so you can weld a variety of materials from aluminum and magnesium to stainless and mild steel.
In addition, its stick welding ability is better than any dedicated arc welder.
It features high-frequency start technology with pulse mode to produce contaminant-free beads with an incredible degree of control.
The dual voltage output allows you to easily switch between 110V and 230V and its inverter based design only adds to its versatility.
If you have the money and are in the market for a new TIG/ stick welder, this is it.
Specs and Features
Weight: 46.5 lbs
Size: L19″ x W11″ x H14″
Power Input: 120/230V
Power Output: 200A
Duty Cycle: 25% @ 200A
Material Thickness: Up to 1/4″ mild steel
Warranty: 3 years